Congregation, 10 February 2015 (Castle Mill Debate)

Result of Postal vote 5 March 2015

The postal ballot of Congregation has rejected the motion, with 1698 votes against and 460 votes in favour. This endorses the decision of the Congregation meeting of February 10, which rejected the motion by 536 to 210 votes.

The University has had a positive and constructive debate on the future of Castle Mill, with a clear outcome. The University remains committed to mitigating the visual impact of the buildings in a way which does not disrupt student accommodation and keeps within the £6 million cost estimated for this purpose. Many creative ideas were put forward at the Congregation debate on how best to achieve this. We hope to explore these ideas further, along with other suggestions that University members and local residents may have. The University’s Council will consider the next steps on Castle Mill at its meeting on March 16.  We will share further information with the wider Oxford community after the Council meeting.

Congregation 10 February 2015

A debate on a resolution took place at the Congregation meeting on Tuesday 10 February. The result of the vote taken was in favour 210 votes, against 536 votes.

A requisition for a postal vote was received from 57 members of Congregation. A full list of signatories is available in the Gazette of 19 February 2015.

The postal vote rejected the resolution, with 1698 votes against and 460 votes in favour. This endorses the decision of the Congregation meeting of 10 February 2015.

Text of the resolution

“Congregation welcomes the conclusions of the EIA, resolves that of the three options that it offers for mitigation of the environmental damage caused by the Castle Mill Development, Option 3 is the only one that offers substantial mitigation, and therefore instructs Council to proceed with mitigation work according to the recommendations of Option 3.”

A full list of the proposers of the resolution is available in the Gazette of 15 January 2015.

Response from Council

Council considers the resolution unacceptable to it.  

At its meeting on 19 January, Council gave careful consideration to the resolution first published on 15 January. Council welcomes the conclusions of the Environmental Statement on the Castle Mill development that: ‘with the improvements proposed in the Design Mitigation Strategy (Option 1), the advantages of the development would outweigh any residual harm’; and that: ‘…for economic and social reasons anything more than the minimum required to achieve a measure of environmental improvements would have a disproportionate effect and should not be pursued on these grounds’. Council proposes, subject to local authority planning processes, to proceed with mitigation work consistent with Option 1 and deems unacceptable the demand for the implementation of Option 3, which the Environmental Statement independently costs at £30 million, five times the estimate for Option 1.

Speakers in the debate (in order)

The Revd Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, St Cross College (Proposer)
Professor Jane Caplan, St Antony's College (Seconder)
Professor Sally Mapstone, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education), St Hilda’s College
Professor Ewan McKendrick, Registrar, Lady Margaret Hall
Professor Avner Offer, All Souls College
Louis Trup, OUSU President
Jamieson Hunter, Department of Physics
Professor William James, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Planning and Resources), Brasenose College
Dr Daniel Isaacson, Wolfson College
Professor Alex Halliday, Head of the MPLS Division
Professor Steve Roberts, St Edmund Hall
Dr Seamus Perry, Balliol College
Dr Peter Collins, St Edmund Hall
Professor Malcolm Airs, Kellogg College
Professor Jan Schnupp, St Peter’s College
Dr Jan-Georg Deutsch, St Cross College
Professor Susan Cooper, St Catherine’s College
Dr Nick D Brown, Principal of Linacre College
Professor Kalypso Nicolaïdis, St Antony’s College
Professor Ian Walmsley, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research), St Hugh’s College
Professor Sir Drummond Bone, Master of Balliol College
Liesl Elder, Director of Development
Professor Paul L Davies, Harris Manchester College
James Blythe, OUSU Vice-President for Access and Academic Affairs
Sir Jonathan Phillips, Warden of Keble, Chair of Conference of Colleges
The Revd Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, St Cross College (closing remarks)


A transcript of the meeting was published in the Gazette of 19 February 2015 and is available in the right-hand column of this page.

Further information

A document providing background information on Castle Mill for members of Congregation is available in the right hand column.

The full Environmental Statement is available to download from here (because there are more than 100 PDFs we have made them available in Dropbox but please note: you do NOT need to sign in or create a Dropbox account to access them). There is also a Castle Mill, Environmental Statement, Non-Technical Summary (8,272kb).